The Primary 2 Form Teacher

Have you had a teacher in your primary / secondary schooling years that fit into this profile:

Unmarried woman in her 40s, with a perpetual scowl on her face.

I still can recall a teacher known as Ms Tay, that I encountered in Primary 5, who didn’t rank too highly in her personable attributes. Being 11 then, I think it was easier to manage a teacher whom I don’t feel really compelled to give gifts to when Teachers’ Day came around that year.

This reminds me of a retro card game I used to play in Primary School;

Screen Shot 2015 02 02 at 1 52 12 PM

So how do I manage when it is my barely 8 year old that is experiencing a form teacher of this profile in Primary 2 this year?

This experience with K’s new form teacher is like an understatement to experiencing a fast track education in Singapore. Not just in academics, but also a fast track lessons in learning EQ.

I suspected that this teacher is quite ‘different’ during the 2nd week of a teacher-parent briefing, when she insisted that she will not give her mobile number to the parents but will prefer to communicate through email. Many of K’s classmates parents expressed their preference that it will be a more effective form of communication with her. Besides last year, we could call or drop an sms to the previous form teacher. With reluctance, she wrote her mobile number on the white board, and highlighted that we should only call/message her when absolutely necessary.

As for how K feels about his form teacher? It can be seen through these short anecdotes after 3 weeks of school;

“I think Ms Ong is not a happy person, I hardly ever see her smile.” :(

“You know what happened today, C (his classmate) broke her water bottle and was really upset about it, and you know what Ms Ong said. She said that she does not care! She actually said that she doesn’t care!” – with a look of disbelief on his face.

“Ms Ong is really not sharp, she ended up scolding the wrong person in class. Instead of D who was the one who started disturbing E, she punished E. I pity E, who did not deserve the punishment.”

“Ms Ong punishes the whole class, when just one person makes the mistake. The rest of us get punished even when it is not our fault” (I told him like it is in being in the Army, as that happens when someone makes a mistake in the platoon).

“Sigh…I really miss Mdm Tan (his teacher last year). Even though she is strict and firm, she is caring, but Ms Ong…(sigh again)”


What he needed was fast track lessons on EQ;

– To learn to be alert and watch her emotions and body language during class time.

– And be really, really attentive during her lessons so that he knows what he to do for her subjects that she teach.

So far he hasn’t experience any issues with her, but have been sharing stories about how some of his classmates, the not-so-alert ones, who have been getting it quite bad from her.

Still, I can see myself writing her this note to her;



As much as I wanted to send this to her through K, I decided not to.

Having come from the ‘school of hard knocks’, I have come to realise that often in life we are not able to change the circumstances surrounding us. Until we take drastic measures to change the situation with these bad bosses or not-so-good teachers, and look to switching jobs or the schools.

Having a not-so-good teacher may not be that bad after all, when this becomes an opportunity to teach K to manage challenging situations by changing his attitude towards it, rather than always expecting things to change for him.

Nonetheless, we find ourselves praying for her nightly before we go to bed, in the hope that she can experience the love of God, so that she can be transformed to be a more loving person towards the children and others.

To be frank, I am not really that excited to meet her again for PTM in May, as she just made it more challenging for me to motivate my child in his second year of Singapore’s School system.

And if desperate measures are ever needed, this letter that I just imagined myself writing to her, might just reach her one of these days.


Read here on my take of how a parent can manage the pressures of the Singapore School system, Part 2 of post here.

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  1. Oh yes I remember teachers like that. I guess it’s a good time for K to learn that we don’t always deal with pleasant, kind and caring people in life. At least he has you to rely on to teach him good skills on how to handle such situations.
    Ai Sakura´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday {linky}: Singapore Playgrounds – Sembawang Battleship | Week 4

    Rachel Reply:

    Guess its never to early to teach the realities of life

  2. oh dear… this sounds like teachers from my school decades ago! I realised at the end, after mid-year, these teachers soften a lot, and are really actually nice people under all that scowls.
    Jiahui´s last blog post ..#momazing with Scott’s

    Rachel Reply:

    Things never change isn’t it, hopefully she starts being nicer to the young ones soon.

  3. My daughter had a teacher like that in P2 although she was probably a bit older as she has just retired. Every class she taught started off hating her but by the end of the year they would usually come around and realise how much they learnt from her. She was even voted best teacher one year.

    Rachel Reply:

    I am keeping my fingers crossed that this teacher will turn out like that.

  4. Oh welcome on board to the ‘our teacher is horrid’ club. We had a pretty bad experience with our teacher last year (whom to her everyone who falls short of PERFECTION is ‘specials needs’). Anyway, there’s really not much we can do. As you have rightly done, use this opportunity to teach K about… Well LIFE. I turned whatever negative the teacher said to Sonshine into positive by showing him the bible. I see it as a chance to show him God in every negativity the teacher threw at us.
    Homeschoolsg´s last blog post ..Birds and the bees

    Rachel Reply:

    You did well in teaching your son how to manage these challenges in life!

  5. I guess it is a hit and miss when it comes to our kid’s form teacher. I haven’t met the boys form teacher as yet but so far I taking the stand that is all is well with them as they haven’t been mentioning anything negative about school so far. It seems that the teacher is very jaded by the system and just going through the motions to ensure that she keeps her paycheck.
    Dominique Goh´s last blog post ..Highlights of January 2015

    Rachel Reply:

    Sigh, SG educational system has a way to making the teachers jaded after some time. Must be all that measurement and paperwork that these teachers are swamped with. Realising this really shows that we cannot depend fully on school to teach or motivate our kids.

  6. She reminds me of my Chinese teacher, always fierce and quick to discipline. For a lot of these senior teachers, they tend to be jaded after teaching for so long and lose their passion in the process. Hope K still enjoys school with the other teachers.
    Susan´s last blog post ..Motivational Mondays – 5 things I will do differently in 2015

    Rachel Reply:

    I think its quite normal to encounter these kind of teachers, sometime in our sg education journey. Having to experience the not so nice realities in life is better earlier than late I guess.

  7. lol at the p.s note to the form teacher. 😛
    The old maid game definitely reminds me of some teachers in my schooling days but more as subject teachers rather than form teachers. This thought had been in my mind as well; what if my boys get a not-so-nice form teachers when they start Primary 1. It will totally make settling down in Pri. 1 real tough… Hopefully there will be less of such zombie teachers. :S
    Evelyn´s last blog post ..I play favourites

    Rachel Reply:

    Eve. I am trying to see the positiveness of having such a teacher. The kids might get more motivated to do well and pay attention in class, even if it is in response to fear, not exactly the best way to motivate a child, but we just have to make the best of what is available 😛

  8. I LoL-ed at the P.S as well! In charge of NCC maybe ? :)
    Adora´s last blog post ..Home Sweet Home

    Rachel Reply:

    Haha…yeah, that will probably be a good uniform group for her to take charge of.

  9. Haha yes! I had a Ms Goh in Sec 2, who would end up punishing the whole class in primary school ways, e.g. We would each have to stand up and say, “I will not laugh at my friend’s mistakes.” etc. But… as much as we hated her while she was around, she really made us aware of what was in our history books, if only out of fear. Many of us scored really well when she was our form teacher–she retired in mid-year, and after that a nicer, more fun teacher took over, and our grades dipped again. I think Ms G showed some emotion towards her final days as a teacher and there were some warm exchanges right before she left.

    Rachel Reply:

    Seems like fear is an effective way to motivate some kids… although I wonder how it would be in the long run. The consolation? A form teacher only lasts for a year.